The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible Book 2, Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Leah and Nathan have patched things up, Leah claims. They’re going to Leopoldville together instead of flying out of the continent. There, they witness the independence ceremonies that will usher in new leadership in the Congo. Even the King of Belgium is in attendance here.
Leah believes that she’s patched things up with her father, but by this point, it’s pretty clear that Nathan simply doesn’t feel much love for his daughters. This makes Leah’s struggle to “earn” his love especially tragic.
Themes
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Leah overhears people talking about King Leopold, the Belgian leader who made the Congo “what it is today.” Afterwards, Leah and Nathan run into the Underdowns. Mrs. Underdown is shocked to see them—Nathan is supposed to be leaving for the U.S., not hanging around in the Congo. Privately, Mrs. Underdown tells Leah that Nathan must not be in his right mind. Meanwhile, Lumumba is inaugurated. He’s a tall, thin man, with an intelligent face. It is June 30, 1960.
Although the Congo is about to attain its independence, there’s still a huge amount of Belgian influence visible in the Congo: that’s why there’s still talk of King Leopold on inauguration day (King Leopold was the brutal Belgian monarch who was personally responsible for pushing for crueler, more barbaric conditions in the territory).
Themes
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
Lumumba delivers a speech. He claims that Belgium has given the Congo 80 years of pain and exploitation. As he speaks, Leah thinks about the splendors of Leopoldville, a large city with beautiful white buildings, and then she remembers the squalor of Kilanga. Lumumba’s eyes seem to be on fire as he speaks, and when he falls silent, the crowd roars.
Leah begins to see Lumumba’s point: the beauty of a city like Leopoldville was only possible because of the poverty and decrepitude of villages like Kilanga: the Europeans deprived the Congolese of their own riches in order to build cities. As Walter Benjamin wrote, “There is no document of civilization that is not also a document of barbarism.”
Themes
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon